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Forever Friends: Holen, Meiklejohn leading Loboes to state

LaMoure-Litchville-Marion's Anna Holen (left) defends a set by Medina-Pingree-Buchanan's Hannah Bohl (right) during the Region 3 championship match last Thursday in Hazelton. L-L-M topped M-P-B 3-1. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
LaMoure-Litchville-Marion's Jackie Meiklejohn celebrates a point scored during a match against Medina-Pingree-Buchanan on Oct. 24 in LaMoure. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Jackie Meiklejohn is sort of not kidding when she says she and teammate Anna Holen have been playing volleyball together forever.

The on-court relationship between the two LaMoure-Litchville-Marion all-state athletes goes all the way back to when they were both 7 years old. Their friendship goes back even further.

"We've been best friends since we were born for Pete's sake," Meiklejohn laughed. "We can kinda just connect, since we have been playing together forever."

Meiklejohn and Holen—the co-Region 3 senior athletes of the year—will be leading the Loboes to the state Class B volleyball tournament this week in Fargo for a final time. The Loboes have a chance at winning a third-straight state championship, which is currently unprecedented in North Dakota high school volleyball.

Meiklejohn, at setter, and Holen, at outside hitter, will be known as one of the most successful tandems the state has ever produced. The dynamic duo made the Loboes' varsity as eighth-graders and have since helped L-L-M win four of the last five Region 3 volleyball championships.

The Loboes hold an almost unbelievable record of 182-15-1 since Meiklejohn and Holen donned varsity uniforms. Meiklejohn enters her final state tourney carrying 4,841 career assists, while Holen has amassed 2,809 career kills.

"Ever since first grade, when my mom (Karyn Holen) started coaching, we'd come to practice and practice by ourselves in the corner," said Holen, of her and Meiklejohn's early days in the gym. "Jackie would set me quick balls and we'd get our quick sets down."

L-L-M head coach Laurie Good said working was never a problem for the two. Karyn Holen is still assistant coach for the Loboes.

"They're amazing, but their talent didn't come easy," Good said. "They worked in the offseason, between (Junior Olympic) volleyball and summer camps.

"But they're also very humble," Good added. "They're the model athletes you want on your team. They're role models on the court, inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Just all around great girls."

Holen tallied 20 kills and Meiklejohn turned up 36 assists during L-L-M's 3-1 win over Medina-Pingree-Buchanan for the Region 3 crown last Thursday in Hazelton. Even after a 29-27 win in set 3 by the Thunder, the Loboes' leaders never wavered.

"We've always had good chemistry, clearly because we've been playing for so long," Holen said. "She knows where I like my sets and we know how to work with each other really well."

"We know how each other vibes and all that kinda stuff," Meiklejohn added. "So it's just really easy to play with her."

The magic the two create can still leave coach Good in awe on the sideline.

"It's phenomenal the way they can read each other the way they do," Good said. "It's like they know what the other one is going to do before it happens."

The Loboes' quest at the state three-peat begins Thursday at 5 p.m. against Central Cass (29-11-1) inside the Fargodome. Plenty of emotions should surround the weekend for Meiklejohn, Holen and the Loboes (41-1).

"There will be a lot of great emotions, and also a lot of sad emotions," Good said. "Whether you win or lose you know it's going to be their final match. It's bittersweet, but it's been one heckuva run and it's hard to be sad.

"They've had phenomenal careers and they aren't finished yet."

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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